Responses to an ‘Open Letter to the New New Left’Breaking News
tags: Democratic Party, socialism, 2020 Election
The Nation’s recent publication of “An Open Letter to the New New Left” prompted a range of responses, from affirmation to criticism. In the spirit of open debate, here are two of the critical responses.
DAVID DUHALDE: FIGHTING A STRAW MAN
History repeats itself, “the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Karl Marx’s 170-year-old observation rings true, as some 81 former members of Students for Democratic Society (SDS) offer unsolicited advice to the “new New Left” in an open letter published by The Nation last week.
According to Maurice Isserman’s biography of Michael Harrington, SDS members themselves rejected advice from many of their own movement elders, and not solely on the basis of age. They were open to mentorship from older peace activists who worked alongside them. I.F. Stone’s criticisms of the anti-war movement got “a respectful hearing” because they saw him as part of their struggle against military escalation. “By comparison, Michael, Irving Howe, and Bayard Rustin lacked the credentials in the eyes of young antiwar protesters that would have made their unsolicited advice seem cogent, useful, and well intended.” But the “old New Left” did respect older comrades, and listened to those who struggled on their side.
In their open letter to the “new New Left,” the authors argue that this generation is somehow insufficiently interested in defeating Trump. But their claims, particularly that DSA leadership has “refused” to back Biden, betray a crucial misunderstanding of the circumstances....
MIKE DAVIS: MISUNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
I’m astonished by the binary choice presented in this letter. The immediate battle ahead is the fight over the platform. It should be written by progressives and include Medicare for All. The combined strength of Sanders and Warren delegates plus Biden delegates who support universal coverage makes this a real possibility. In any case, we should never accept a simple coronation in the name of unity....
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